Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's a Messy, Messy Thing

Are these the same? Not really but they are absolutely tied together. If I am not engaged in the process there will be no progress. I am still writing on my story everyday. Every single day since, what... July 23. This, my friends, is an accomplishment. Now that the girls are back in school, I expect to be more engaged in both the process and progress of my novel-in-stories.

Today was the first full day they were back in school. I kept a rough time line of my day, kind of the way dieters need to account for every morsel they put into their mouth. I won't bore you with the minute-by-minute dissection of my day. Let's just say that I managed to write/revise/mull over my story for a total of almost three hours. Plus I wrote morning pages and read "Sense & Sensibilty" as part of my self-designed MFA.

My process... well, it's messy. It's confusing. Frustrating. But it's my process and at least I have one. The story I am working on now is a huge revision of a story that my writing group has already workshopped. So I have a master copy with five sets of comments throughout. Then I have a notebook with all the scribbling I've done everyday in a barely legible handwriting, in scenes that shift from first person to third and between past and present tense. The notebook is essential. It's the most frustrating part. I often don't know what's happening next. It's hard to find a scene once I write it. I have magenta post-it notes flagging scenes that I think will be in the story. Once I read over all that I have gathered in my notebook I start to piece it together somehow with the original draft. This involves lots of "insert A here", "insert B there". But then I have A's and B's from other drafts and I forget what I meant to do. Then I can't find the scene that needs to go next so I have to "read" through al my scribbles again trying to find it. Once I have some semblance of another draft pieced together I type it all up. That's what I finished today then took to the bookstore, got my iced green soy latte and sat down with a pink pen and started all over again. More A's and B's and now notes of what I think needs to happen next.

It's messy but so satisfying when the pieces start to fall into place. I feel this quickening in my blood as I write, as I play out scenes behind my eyes as if they were a movie and know it's finally coming together. Out of this chaos emerges this little world. It's kind of amazing.

So many new books coming out by some of my favorite authors. Ron Carlson's book on writing is headed my way from amazon. Came home today with Ann Packer's new novel "Songs Without Words." Ann Patchett and Alice Sebold both have new novels coming out.

I finished Antonya Nelson's collection of stories, "Some Fun". I literally read the last sentence of the novella and turned back to the beginning to start it again. Her narrators are like"having a great friend whose company you love, whose mind you love to pick, whose running commentary totally holds your attention, who makes you laugh out loud, whose lines you always want to steal." (from page 49-50 of "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott) "Some Fun" goes on my permanent book shelf of books to re-read and learn from over and over again.

I made two birthday cards for my sisters. Will post pix soon. I really want to figure out how to create an album in flicker then link that to my blog. I have three more books coming from amazon, all on collage and mixed media. One covers the use of collage in writing which is something I've been meaning to explore. Another is about artist's journals- always inspiring.

"No matter how badly we may want it to, revision just doesn't go in a straight line. It's not a process of improvement; it's a process of learning." - Heather Sellers, "Chapter After Chapter"

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